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Food & Dining: Zyka: “The Taste” is Consistently Good

By Sucheta Rawal Email By Sucheta Rawal
July 2022
Food & Dining: Zyka: “The Taste” is Consistently Good

After a long hiatus during the pandemic, one of Atlanta’s favorite restaurants, Zyka: The Taste, reopened for dine-in. The iconic location at Scott Boulevard, Decatur, which has been around since 1997, offers the same, familiar experience with its modest interior renovations, while the newer Alpharetta location that opened in 2020, is modern, yet nostalgic.

Located off Old Milton Parkway in Alpharetta, a large contemporary-looking building with big windows and a wooden façade stands independently. The double doors and wood floors open to a naturally lit open space fitted with informal cafeteria-style tables and chairs accommodating 110 guests. Wooden shades offer semiprivate booth seating at the back of the restaurant. There are colorful panels on the ceiling hinting to the kaleidoscope of spices used in the kitchen.


Aside from the clean and contemporary interior, everything else in the fast-casual Indian restaurant remains unchanged and true to its origins. Guests can order at the self-service counters or use one of the automated kiosks, receive their meals on plastic trays, and enjoy curries and biryanis out of disposable bowls and plates.Zyka_3_07_22.jpg

[Right] Aloo Tikki

[Left] Hyderabad Biryani​

The menu offers a wide selection of lamb, beef, chicken, and vegetarian dishes. In appetizers, the Chicken 65 is a Chick-Fil-A nuggets-meets-Andhra concoction. Tender pieces of boneless chicken are fried to perfection and tempered with green chilies and curry leaves before serving. Chef and owner Nooruddin (Noor) Fazal trademarked the name “Zyka Chicken 65” because of its growing popularity!


The Tandoori Chicken, grilled on open flames, is tender and flavorful. You can taste hints of tang from the mango powder and lemon juice against the heat of red chili and garam masala, soaked into the highquality Halal bone-in chicken.


 [Right] Malai Kofta

[Left] Chicken Seekh Kebab

Vegetarians will love the peppery flavor of Gobi Manchurian, a batter-dipped and fried cauliflower appetizer served with sliced jalapenos, sweet tamarind, and mild chili-yogurt sauces. For entrée, try peanut, coconut, tamarind, and sesame seed gravy with baby Indian eggplants, known as Baghare Baigan. Topped with oil, this vegan and gluten-free dish is tasty and filling. The Dal Hyderabadi is a unique version where split chickpeas (chana dal) and pigeon peas (toor dal) are mixed, cooked with tangy flavors of tamarind and lemon, and made into a lentil puree.


[Right] Khubani ka Meetha

[Left] Channa Masala​ 


Born in Hyderabad, Fazal traveled to India and Pakistan several times to taste and learn about their cooking nuances. He created two distinct variations of biryani on the menu appealing to all palates—a Pakistani-style Chicken Biryani where the meat is cooked separately from the rice and then mixed together just before serving for a peppery spicy flavor. On the other hand, raw goat meat is simmered in a large pot with rice, fried onions, yogurt, ginger, garlic, and spices; and then baked to create a delicately flavored Hyderabad Mutton Biryani.

One of Zyka’s signature dishes is Chicken Kali Mirch, a black pepper chicken curry where you will feel an afterkick from the jalapenos, so it is best paired with a thin, light, and fluffy naan.


[Right] Chicken Tikka Masala

[Left] Baghare Baigan


Complement your meal with a refreshing sweet Mango Lassi or a cup of warm Masala Chai, and make sure to save room for dessert. Zyka is perhaps the only restaurant in metro Atlanta where you will find Khubani Ka Meetha, a luscious, layered dessert with a sweet, stewed apricot jam, light homemade custard, and crunchy chopped almonds. There is also house-made Rabdi, which reminds you of a creamy ricotta cheesecake and Matka Kulfi, the dense traditional Indian ice cream in mango, pistachio, and cream (malai) flavors served in individual clay pots.

After 25 years, Zyka is still relevant and continues to attract loyal diners looking for authentic Indian dishes that are not watered-down or made into fusions to appeal to broader crowds. There are no-frills at this old-school, casual, familyfriendly restaurant; yet it proves that the biggest success factor is consistently good quality food.


Meet our new columnist

SUCHETA RAWAL is an award-winning food and travel writer, who has traveled to over 100 countries across seven continents, experiencing the world through her palate. She has been named one of the most influential cultural bloggers in the world for her blog Go Eat Give. Born in Mumbai and raised in Chandigarh, Rawal moved to Atlanta at the age of 17 when she started working at an Italian restaurant and ate her way across the city. When at home, Rawal writes recipes, teaches cooking classes, and hosts Airbnb dinner experiences.


Khubani ka Meetha

Channa Masala​

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